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Question 1: Various commentators have frequently invoked the importance of moderate Muslims and the role that they can play in fighting extremism in the Muslim world. But it is not clear who is a moderate Muslim. The recent cancellation of Tariq Ramadan’s visa to the United States, the raids on several American Muslim organizations, and the near marginalization of mainstream American Muslims in North America pose the following question: If moderate Muslims are critical to an American victory in the war on terror, then why does the American government frequently take steps that undermine moderate Muslims? Perhaps there is a lack of clarity about who the moderate Muslims are. In your view, who are these moderate Muslims and what are their beliefs and politics?
AUJ: The promotion of “moderate” Muslims is part of an extremist tendency sweeping the United States, unlike the situation in the Muslim world. It is the result of a war between two Americas: the America of ideals (e.g., of equality and justice) and the America of extremism, which has succumbed to self-interest groups and individuals. For the America of ideals, the Tariq Ramadan episode is a dark spot, one among many such episodes in recent times. Periodic episodes of tragedy are the hallmark of the America that has shifted its priorities under the pressure and manipulation of the extremists. These forces use all expedient means to sacrifice the wellbeing of the United States for self-interest and promotion of the Zionist state. This extremism entails a morbid dread of Islam. It never regards any Muslim as moderate unless one publicly rejects the Qur’an as “the final manifesto of God,”1 considering this belief a “disturbing cornerstone of Islam,”2 and submitting to the rejection of key parts of the Qur’an.3 Unquestioning support for Israel, along with all other American-approved dictatorships, is the minimum criterion.4 All other factors are irrelevant. The fascistic American track record of accepting “moderates” and rejecting “radicals” is clear.5 The final distinction is not defined by their adherence to Islam, but by the assumed threat they pose to the interests of these extremists. For example, a devout man, fervent in all of his personal rituals but not participating in political affairs, would be a “moderate,” whereas a marginally practicing Muslim with the zeal to voice his opposition to the injustice perpetrated by the extremists’America is classified as a “radical.” In the current political context, a moderate is one who is passive like the devout man, or active like the extremist “moderates” – the Muslim neomods – who openly promote the extremist agenda using Islamic interpretations or “Project Ijthihad”6 as a cover. Hence, the distinction is not academic or religious, but political. Two opposing factors prove this point. First, there are clear commands for Muslims to be moderate by default.7 Moderateness is a prerequisite for all Muslims, not a label of identity for some. Accordingly, Muslims cannot be part-time or partial Muslims (Qur’an 2:208) or reject part of the Qur’an (Qur’an 2:85).8 Hence, such religious labelling is irrelevant. Second, the extremists insist that strong belief in the totality of the Qur’an makes Muslims “Islamists.”9 That is why they believe themselves to be “absolutely at war with the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran.”10 It means that the standards of “moderateness,” as set by the American extremists, are directed at neutralizing a preconceived threat. Under these circumstances, mere claims of being a “moderate” do not make any difference at all, as long as a Muslim is presented as a threat, however baseless, to the interests of extremist America. Similarly, the so-called extremism in the Muslim world is not the result of Muslims’faith. Rather, it is a function of the perpetually colonized and oppressed people due to the lack of true independence and a central authority to control and productively channel their energies. It is naïve to suggest that a few ill-informed “moderate” individuals or puppet regimes can emulate the abilities of an entire central authority (i.e., the Islamic state) and effect progress and positive meaningful change.